Queer people of Latin American heritage have been making history for centuries, but most of them don’t get official recognition for their work by their national governments. These seven Latine/Latinx LGBTQ+ people have had the honor to have their likeness or their artwork grace an official postage stamp of their country.
Sergio E. Baradat (born 1959)
Sergio Baradat, an out gay graphic designer of Cuban descent who grew up in Miami, makes sense to be the person to start off a list about Latine folks on stamps because he is a leader in the postage design world.
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Baradat is the United Nations’ Postal Administration’s art director, and his own artwork has appeared on multiple U.S. stamps and U.N. stamps (U.N. stamps can be used to send mail from the organization’s offices in New York, Geneva, or Vienna). Notably, his stamp designs include the U.N.’s 2016 “Free & Equal” collection that expresses LGBTQ+ love and joy.
His art has been displayed in museums around the U.S. and is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s Postal Museum.
Luis Caballero (1943-1995)
Colombian painter Luis Caballero is known for his depictions of nude male bodies. In fact, during the last 25 years of his celebrated career, those were his only subjects. Caballero studied in Bogotá and Paris and considered his homosexuality to be a foundational factor in his artistry.
He painted or drew men — alone or together — often with erotic or violent undertones. A section of his 1990 work Gran telón (Big curtain) appears on a 1992 stamp that Colombia released as part of the country’s 400th anniversary honoring famous Colombians.
Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695)
Juana Inés de la Cruz was born in 1648 in New Spain (what would become Mexico) during a time when women weren’t allowed to get an education or work and therefore had to marry men to access food and shelter. But de la Cruz figured out another way to get those necessities without a man — a way other women who didn’t want to marry men have used throughout history — she became a nun.
She spent her time in the convent becoming one of the most educated women in the world and one of the most prolific poets of the Spanish language… including sapphic poems.
Mexico has issued multiple stamps in her honor going back at least to 1971. The most recent issue was in 2020 for the 325th anniversary of her death. De la Cruz also appears as the face of the $200 note on Mexico’s currency as of 2008.
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
Both Mexico and the U.S. have issued stamps honoring the great Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. As a painter, Kahlo is known for her self-portraits which have been described as folk art and surrealism.
Her portraits explore her personal life and themes including pain, identity, and gender. She was a feminist, communist, disabled, bisexual woman who was fiercely proud of her Mexican and indigenous heritage and has become an icon for those who were in the same communities as she was.
Ramon Novarro (1899-1968)
Ramon Novarro was a young teenager when he came from Mexico to Los Angeles with his family in 1913, during the Mexican Revolution. He acted in silent films starting in 1917 and then in the talkies for decades with a major break being his role in 1923’s swashbuckler silent film Scaramouche. Some of his biggest roles were starring in the 1925 dramatic adventure silent film Ben-Hur and playing opposite Greta Garbo in the 1931 wartime spy drama Mata Hari.
Novarro had romantic relationships with composer Harry Partch, journalist Herbert Howe, and philanthropist Noël Sullivan, but was deeply closeted. A portrait of Novarro appeared on a 1986 Mexican stamp, and a movie still of him in Mata Hari on a 1972 UAE stamp.
Emilio Sanchez (1921-1999)
Emilio Sanchez was a gay Cuban-American artist known for his paintings and lithographs, especially of architecture. He studied art in New York City after moving from Cuba in the 1940s. He held solo exhibitions all over the Americas from his first in 1949 through his death in 1999 and his work continued to be shown in shows in the 21st century.
The USPS released a series of four stamps in 2021, the 100th anniversary of his birth, each featuring one of his paintings and his name.
María Elena Walsh (1930-2011)
Argentine poet, novelist, musician, playwright, and composer María Elena Walsh is famous in Argentina for her songs and books for children. Her popular songs were sometimes censored during the dictatorship of the 1970s to ’80s because they were seen as encouraging children to think for themselves, and this turned the songs into symbols of democracy for people of all ages.
Walsh used her position as a public figure to speak out strongly against political oppression during the junta. Her song about the dictatorship, “El País del Nomeacuerdo,” was used as the theme song for the 1985 Academy Award-winning film about the dictatorship’s aftermath, The Official Story. Walsh’s life partner of over 30 years was photographer Sara Facio.